Friday, April 2, 2010

We All Have Our Own Cross To Carry: A Good Friday Meditation



The Cross of Our Lord Jesus is NOT a reminder of PAIN.
The Cross of Our Lord Jesus is NOT a reminder of SUFFERING.
The Cross of Our Lord Jesus is NOT a reminder of FEAR. It is NOT a reminder of DEATH.

The Cross of Our Lord Jesus IS a reminder of LOVE.
Our Lord Jesus' crucifixion IS a revelation about love. 
A revelation that does not focus on the suffering of Our Lord Jesus, 
but focuses on THE LOVE that LED Our Lord Jesus to suffer.

A love that led Him to DIE on the Cross: FOR YOU, for me, for ALL people!

The Cross of Our Lord Jesus also reminds us of something else. Something we tend to forget.
The Cross reminds us that LOVE REQUIRES SACRIFICE: that LOVE OFTEN REQUIRES SUFFERING.
Our Lord Jesus commanded us: 
"Love one another as I have loved you." [John 13:34]
This command from can never be separated from ANOTHER of His commands: 
"Whoever wishes to come after me must DENY himself, take up his Cross, and follow me." [Luke 9:23]
The Cross of Our Lord Jesus reminds us to LOVE ONE ANOTHER as Our Lord Jesus loves us --
"even to death, death on a Cross." [Philippians 2:8]

All of us HAVE and WILL experience loss, pain, betrayals and injustices.
We all experience events which are various disguises that sin and death masquerade in.
We Catholics usually refer to this with the expression, “We all have our own cross to carry.”

As believers, people with faith in the Crucified Christ,
we are fully aware of the fact that LIFE includes moments in the sunshine and in the shadows.
That LIFE is precarious; it is threat­ened by accident, disease, pain and aging. 
LIFE is upset by events beyond our control. 
Even the rich and the powerful cannot buy a carefree existence. 
Trials and misunderstandings, sickness and death, 
do not stop at the walls of the country club or the condominium. 
“We all have our own cross to carry.” 
We Catholics say that a lot. 
Sometimes, we make it sound like a cliche, like a platitude used too often to be taken seriously. 
Just what are we talking about when we speak of “THE CROSS” in our lives? 
Is “THE CROSS” a girl’s disa­ppointment in not being invited to the prom?
Is it a boy's disappointment at not making the team ?
Is “THE CROSS” a person's regret at passing up what turned out to be the winning lottery ticket?
    “THE CROSS” is much more than this.
    The symbol of the Cross is not mere disappointment.
    The Cross as a symbol stands for burdens so great that we need help to bear them.
    The symbol of the Cross is not merely for having a bad day.
    The symbol of the Cross is not merely drooping spirits, but for the weight that crushes the spirit — or tries to.
      The symbol of the Cross is A dark night of the soul,
      A betrayal that destroys the security we felt we had,
      A pain that forces us to cry out and wonder why we were born or how we will endure.
        The symbol of the Cross reminds us that JESUS CHRIST HELPS US to bear whatever our burden is.

        And so, the question is:
        IF we TRULY believe that Our Lord Jesus is with us to help us, 
        can we look at what IS or MAY BE THE CROSS in our lives and: 
        Accept it? Embrace it? Turn it from defeat to victory?

        Our Lord Jesus Himself accepted death, His own death, at a young age. 
        His greatest gift to us — during His crucifixion — was to continue to trust God His Father. 
        Our Lord Jesus bestowed that gift of faith to US!

        The upsets of life are not attractive. 
        But they are life! Or part of it! 
        And they compel us to trust in something or 
        Someone MORE than our skills, 
        Something MORE than our sciences, 
        Someone MORE than our selves.

        What we all want to discover is that we are loved. 
        That means we are wanted, that we are too important ever to be thrown away. 
        And this is God's word to us all through our lives. 
        We just have trouble believing it! 
        We are told that we are made in his image, pieces of gold. 
        We are told that he has loved us with an everlasting love, even more than a mother loves her child.

        Words are not enough, but God helps us believe them through the gift of faith. 
        And something more: 
        God loves us right now through each other. 
        The message comes through the witness of human life.

        There are TWO tremendously important consequences here:

        THE first is that 
        WE MUST BECOME THE INSTRUMENTS OF GOD'S HEALING LOVE TO EACH OTHER;
        THE second is that 
        WE MUST BELIEVE THAT THIS IS THE WAY THAT CHRIST RENEWS HIS INCARNATION IN OUR WORLD TODAY. 
        The Word of God is still taking flesh – IN OUR FLESH – 
        to speak to this human situation, that trial, this moment of joy, that pain, this ecstasy.
          DO WE UNDERSTAND THIS?

          Today as we reflect on Our Lord Jesus being "lifted up" on the cross for the redemption of the world, 
          let us lift up to Him OUR crosses, the crosses WE take up on our journeys to Calvary,
          the sufferings which transform the crucifixions around us into triumphs of the Easter promise.

          To accept and deal with the pain and disappointment we experience in life
          to carry our Cross — 
          does not mean that we should sink into self-pity, 
          or deny our anger, 
          or to passively surrender and accept the role of victim.

          To carry our Cross means to accept the reality of our suffering and pain AND 
          — through trusting faith in Christ — 
          transform the suffering and pain into growth in holiness, 
          into growth in greater wisdom, in generous compassion, 
          in selflessly consoling others: wiping their faces, 
          helping them carry the Crosses they struggle with.

          Carrying our own Cross in this way 
          — the way Our Lord Jesus did — 
          brings a peace of mind and a joy — 
          that pain and loss can never take away from us.

          Every person has their crosses to carry in their life. 
          We know Our Lord Jesus was obedient, accepting even death, even the death of the cross! 
          And because of this, He was exalted.

          Our Lord Jesus commanded us "Love one another as I have loved you."

          This command from can never be separated from ANOTHER of His commands:
          "Whoever wishes to come after Me must DENY himself, take up his Cross, and follow me."

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